Athlete of the Month
The Team Sheeper Athlete of the Month award is handed out to a member of the team on a monthly basis, 7 or 8 times a year. The AOM is someone who made a notable contribution to the team or did something remarkable. Selection is made by nomination and voting by the membership.
You can nominate anyone and the nomination period is usually during the first week or two of the month. Look for notification that nominations are being sought. When nomination close, the voting starts and once all the votes are tallied, the new AOM is crowned.
Besides bragging rights for a month, our AOM gets some goodies from our gracious sponsors, such as free shoes from TRH, a massage from SMI, gift certificates from GoRide.
June 2006 Athlete of the Month
First of all, thank you to the team for electing me June AOM. Doing well in a triathlon race is achieving a personal challenge, but I believe that being recognized by your peers is an even greater accomplishment.
There have not been many changes in my non-triathlon life since my last AOM nomination; therefore instead of repeating myself, I will try, in the following paragraphs, to answer some of my teammates' questions:
Any little secrets about training?
You saw me out there! I used the Team Sheeper Ironman program as the backbone of my training and made a few changes to customize it to my needs.
For instance, I usually do a leg strength focus in the off-season. The workout routine consists of core + leg weight lifting for 1 hour followed by 20-40 min maximum big gear effort on a bike trainer. This workout routine was given to me 3 years ago by the medical head coach for the Tour de France, who happens to live in my hometown. "Do it twice a week for 2 months and if you survive it, your bike strength will jump considerably", he said.
When building for a race, I try to arrange my work load on a "2 weeks on, 1 week easy" sequence in order to avoid burnout. I use measurement devices as much as possible (heart rate monitor, power sensor, metronome) to be sure that I am training the right physiological pathways, henceforth reducing the waste of unnecessary efforts. For IM CDA, I also rode twice in 100F heat – in
area - to experience how it "feels" to do race efforts in the heat and then try to adjust my hydration/nutrition accordingly. Livermore
Did you try to cut the bread with your toes?
You build 5+ months of hard training around a single event and then 5 days from the actual race, badaboom! You stupidly let a bread knife loose on a kitchen counter, it fell down on your foot, managed to slice the ligament of your big toe in the process and suddenly you find yourself fainting on your kitchen floor, your heart rate spiking above the roof ceiling (NB: I did not have my heart rate monitor on at that time but it felt like I was above threshold...), your girlfriend trying to calm you down while sponging the blood spilling on the floor. Great situation!
To do it or not do it (the IM race)?
The podiatrist said that I needed surgery ASAP to reattach the 2 severed parts of the ligament, and that I could not run anyway with that injury. But I did not want to bury so easily 6 months of hard training, and completing the race was my goal. The doctor let me go with the promise that I would have the surgery as soon as I returned from the race. The risk, he said, was that the 2 parts of the severed ligament could retract during the race and that I might need a ligament graft to repair it. Well, was it worth taking the risk? At that time I thought so and my mind was already focused on damage control mode for the race: how the hell I was going to put on my bike shoe at T1 with a big toe dangling down! Have you ever tried it? Not so easy to do, the big toe is wet and does not want to slide into the shoe. What about the swim? I decided to buddy tape the big toe. Nothing better than a buddy to help you in tough times!
What was your IM goal?
My initial goal this year was to improve upon my last years' time of and get as close as possible to the hours mark. I didn’t build any expectations for an IM Kona slot, if it was going to happen, great, otherwise I would just be happy with the feeling of having done the best that I could under the conditions of that day.
On a positive note, thanks to my ligament-slashing incident, I was off the hook from my initial race performance goal: the race pressure went off almost immediately after the cut and my objective now was race completion with minimal damage to the foot. The monkey left my shoulder and my nerves got some unexpected early relief.
Did it hurt during the race?
I actually felt some pain when, in the middle of swim scrimmage after the first buoy turn, one swimmer behind me grabbed my right foot and pulled it back strongly to push me out of the way. She pulled so hard that she ripped the medical tape off my toes. Ouch! It took me a couple of minutes of breast stroking to bring my heart rate back into control.
The biking was fine and by the time of the run, like every other athlete in the race, I was dealing with so many other sources of pain that my foot was only one of many pains (lower back, seat bone, stomach, etc). Not being able to use my big toe however forced me to transfer more body weight on the outer part of the foot, henceforth affecting the biomechanics of running, creating more pressure on the heel, huge blisters and the loss of one toe nail. But the real concern was less physical than mental, with the need to fight in my thoughts the uncomfortable feeling that every footstep increases the risk of ligament damage.
How did it affect your race performance?
In the swim, after my first buoy turn incident, I tried to stay clear of people and likely missed out on some drafting. The bike was largely unaffected, however, I had to be very cautious during the run. I adopted a slower pace with a short stride, fully aware that, at the first sign of acute pain, I would have to stop. It was frustrating to let other racers in my age-group pass me, but it was the price I had to pay to not end up the race in the medical tent. It is ironic that, this year, I focused my IM training on improving my run, to finally end up not being able to leverage these gains! You definitely never know what to expect in an IM race!
Fortunately for me, the day was very hot and dry, and many other participants had also to slow down their pace on the run. Heat is a powerful equalizer of performances! After the last turn-around, with 5 miles to go, I knew that it was now safe for my foot and decided to pick up the pace. It was a great feeling to know that I was going to complete the race. With my increased speed, I started catching-up on the field and still had plenty of energy left from my early restrain.
I had no idea of my times since my watch has been damaged during the swim scrimmage and water got into it. At the beginning of the finish chute, I passed Tim, who told me my expected finish time of , but I had no clue about what it meant in term of performances, and I did not care since I came here just to complete the race, as the conclusion of 5 months of training.
After the race, I had 3 phone messages from Sheeper teammates on my cell phone, announcing that, from my results on Ironmanlive.com, I likely had qualified for an IM Kona slot. I was in total disbelief and decided to leave it on the back burner till the day after. I just enjoyed having completed the race and was now looking for my Sheeper teammates. It had been a tough day out there and many were still suffering on the run or recovering in the medical tent. The emotional and physical challenges encountered during a race like this one are deep and intense. It was now time for support and regrouping as a team.
And they (the ligaments) lived happily ever after
Flew back on Tuesday AM, MRI on Tuesday PM, surgery on Wednesday AM! The surgeon videotaped me running in the corridor of the hospital prior to the surgery, because he still could not believe that I could run after analyzing the MRI images! Power of mind over body, I guess. The surgery went well and the recovery so far has been twice as fast as anticipated. No more excuses to slack at Kona!